Amazonian indigenous women mobilize against further environmental destruction in Ecuador October 25, 2013
¡La selva se defiende! ¡La selva no se vende! Defend the rainforest! Don’t sell the rainforest!
For the last two weeks, these chants have echoed throughout Ecuador and are now echoing out around the globe. On October 10th, women from seven different indigenous nationalities (Kichwa, Waorani, Shiwiar, Shuar, Achuar, Andoa and Sápara) began gathering in the Amazon-port city of Puyo to embark upon a new journey, a journey for life. Two days later, over 100 women began a “Women’s Mobilization for Life.” They walked, marched, danced and caravanned from Puyo to the capital city of Quito in resistance to the Ecuadorian government’s oil drilling plans in Yasuni-ITT and the southern-central Amazon. They traveled 250 kilometers from the Amazon to the Andes stopping in cities along the way including Baños, Latacunga and Ambato to call attention to their concerns and demands across the nation.
Women of all ages – elders, youth and babies – and their supporters, husbands, brothers, spiritual and political leaders marched to raise national awareness of the need to defend life and indigenous territories. Specifically, they mobilized to:
Demand respect for the autonomy of the community and territorial governing structures of the distinct nationalities in the Ecuadorian Amazon
Show the evidence of exploitation of natural resources through the extraction that takes places within the capitalist system of accumulation
Share the community model of life and development as a viable economic alternative to the extraction model proposed by the government
Deliver resolutions from the GONOAE (formerly CONFENIAE) Congress and the Indigenous Women’s Assembly in Defense of Life, Territory and “Living Well” concept
Not only did the women manage to do this, but they also raised visibility of the Kawsak Sacha – "Selva Viviente" or “Forest Living” – concept, which respects all of nature and its guardians in a peaceful coexistence with human life in the rainforest. This influenced national public opinion and garnered press, which has recently been focused on President Correa’s announcement to cancel the Yasuni-ITT initiative in mid-August.
Upon arrival in Quito on October 16th, the group demanded to meet with President Correa. When he would not receive them last week, they decided to stay over the weekend in attempt to get a meeting this week. During that time, they gained more and more support as they held meetings, press conferences and marches. Photos and articles of their demands spread rapidly across social media channels in Ecuador and around the world, stemming from the group’s La Huangana Colectiva online base.
Source

Amazonian indigenous women mobilize against further environmental destruction in Ecuador 
October 25, 2013

¡La selva se defiende! ¡La selva no se vende! 
Defend the rainforest! Don’t sell the rainforest!

For the last two weeks, these chants have echoed throughout Ecuador and are now echoing out around the globe. On October 10th, women from seven different indigenous nationalities (Kichwa, Waorani, Shiwiar, Shuar, Achuar, Andoa and Sápara) began gathering in the Amazon-port city of Puyo to embark upon a new journey, a journey for life. Two days later, over 100 women began a “Women’s Mobilization for Life.” They walked, marched, danced and caravanned from Puyo to the capital city of Quito in resistance to the Ecuadorian government’s oil drilling plans in Yasuni-ITT and the southern-central Amazon. They traveled 250 kilometers from the Amazon to the Andes stopping in cities along the way including Baños, Latacunga and Ambato to call attention to their concerns and demands across the nation.

Women of all ages – elders, youth and babies – and their supporters, husbands, brothers, spiritual and political leaders marched to raise national awareness of the need to defend life and indigenous territories. Specifically, they mobilized to:

  1. Demand respect for the autonomy of the community and territorial governing structures of the distinct nationalities in the Ecuadorian Amazon
  2. Show the evidence of exploitation of natural resources through the extraction that takes places within the capitalist system of accumulation
  3. Share the community model of life and development as a viable economic alternative to the extraction model proposed by the government
  4. Deliver resolutions from the GONOAE (formerly CONFENIAE) Congress and the Indigenous Women’s Assembly in Defense of Life, Territory and “Living Well” concept

Not only did the women manage to do this, but they also raised visibility of the Kawsak Sacha"Selva Viviente" or “Forest Living” – concept, which respects all of nature and its guardians in a peaceful coexistence with human life in the rainforest. This influenced national public opinion and garnered press, which has recently been focused on President Correa’s announcement to cancel the Yasuni-ITT initiative in mid-August.

Upon arrival in Quito on October 16th, the group demanded to meet with President Correa. When he would not receive them last week, they decided to stay over the weekend in attempt to get a meeting this week. During that time, they gained more and more support as they held meetings, press conferences and marches. Photos and articles of their demands spread rapidly across social media channels in Ecuador and around the world, stemming from the group’s La Huangana Colectiva online base.

Source

About 150 activists, indigenous groups & supporters gathered in New York City’s Foley Square this morning to demand that Chevron be held accountable for the $18 billion in damages the big oil corporation was ordered to pay in 2011 for toxic dumping, spills & environmental destruction in Ecuador. 

Today marks the beginning of the trial Chevron’s retaliatory R.I.C.O. (Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organization Act) has brought against the Ecuadorians and their U.S.-based legal advocates. The corporation’s use of R.I.C.O. when filing suit against the Ecuadorian victims is its latest attempt to avoid accountability, to evade its $18 billion cleanup & compensation costs & to silence the resistance against the oil giant. Chevron will argue in a non-jury trial that the verdict was obtained through fabricated evidence & manipulation. 

Protesters wore plastic gloves stained with black liquid & held up images of the widespread contamination sites along the Amazon as they chanted “Chevron, asesino!” (Chevron, murderer!). Speakers also told stories of how big oil is threatening indigenous lives in Ecuador. 

Oriente in the Ecuadorian Amazon has been described as a “Rainforest Chernobyl” after Chevron-owned Texaco dumped 18 billion gallons of toxic wastewater into its streams & rivers from 1964 to 1992. Water sources are now teeming with heavy metals, petroleum & other chemicals, making them inhabitable to aquatic life. Waste pits exuding harmful vapors have yet to be cleaned up while indigenous communities who live in the area - Cofán, Siona, Secoya, Kichwa & Huaorani - are plagued with high rates of cancer, birth defects & miscarriages. 

Chevron has been sued in multiple countries before without success. Those who have been watching the trial say the verdict is already obvious. From Paul Barrett:Most recently, [U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan] issued a 104-page pretrial ruling last week warning that he has already determined ‘there was probable cause to suspect a crime or fraud’ by [Ecuadorians’ lead defense lawyer Steven] Donziger in connection with the fabrication of scientific evidence, the coercion of one Ecuadorian judge, the bribing of other Ecuadorian judges, and the ghostwriting of a critical report supposedly composed by an independent court-appointed official. For good measure, Kaplan added that he suspects that Donziger’s legal team in Ecuador secretly wrote some, or all, of the February 2011 court judgment.”

Photos/words by Graciela
(Edit: Yes, that is Bianca Jagger in the first photo.)

Trial opens in Chevron RICO suit against pollution victims in Ecuador
October 14, 2013

On Tuesday, Ecuadorean villagers from the Amazon rainforest region ravaged by Chevron’s oil contamination will join supporters for a large rally in Foley Square across from the courthouse where a trial will open in the California-based oil giant’s retaliatory R.I.C.O. (Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organization Act) lawsuit against the Ecuadorians and their U.S.-based legal advocates. 

The Ecuadorians are representing 30,000 plaintiffs who won a landmark judgment against Chevron in an Ecuadorian court in 2011, wherein the company was ordered to pay more than $18 billion towards the cleanup of widespread contamination, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. The case, holding Chevron accountable for toxic dumping by its predecessor company, Texaco, has been upheld by appellate courts in Ecuador.

Nearly 20 years since the case was filed in 1993, Chevron refuses to pay for a cleanup, and is waging a scorched-earth legal, PR, and lobbying campaign to crush its victims and their advocates and supporters. The oil giant stripped its assets from the country, forcing the Ecuadorians to pursue enforcement of the judgment in countries where the Chevron still maintains assets. Chevron’s use of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act when filing suit against the Ecuadorian victims [.pdf ] and their advocates is the latest chapter in their attempts to evade accountability and repress those trying to hold the company to task.

“This trial is merely Chevron’s latest cynical ploy to evade accountability for its crimes in Ecuador,” said Paul Paz y Miño of Amazon Watch. “Chevron’s legacy in the Amazon has caused enough environmental ruin and human suffering already; it’s time the company to pay for a cleanup, rather than for more abusive efforts to run from its responsibility.”

The Foley Square protest will feature villagers from the Ecuadorean Amazon living amidst hundreds of Chevron’s abandoned toxic waste pits that litter the region. They will be displaying bottles of water polluted by Chevron oil operations, as well as images of friends, family, and community members who have died or suffered cancer and similar illnesses from prolonged exposure to petroleum wastewater. The rally is being organized by members of New York’s Ecuadorean community, along with human rights supporters and environmental activists, who will be supporting them with a massive ‘Lady Justice’ figure and other visually arresting props.

Full article
Facebook event page: Tuesday, Oct. 15 Foley Square 9 a.m.

Correa blasts Washington Post editorial on Snowden case
June 27, 2013

Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa today criticized a Washington Post editorial which comments on Quito’s “double standard” in connection with the request for political asylum made by former US Secret Service agent Edward Snowden, DPA reported.

“The Washington Post is accusing Ecuador of having a ‘double standard’. What a nerve!” Correa commented in his Twitter account, posing the following question to his followers: “Do you realize the power of the international media? They’ve managed to focus our attention on Snowden and the ‘evil’ countries that ‘support’ him, making us forget the terrible things about the United States and the world he brought to light.”

Following another post, Correa shared the following quote: “The world order is not only unjust, it is immoral.”

Correa also commented on the Washington Post’s statements with a popular Ecuadorian expression: “This is probably the year’s caretucada (a bare-faced lie).”

On Monday, the Washington Post published an editorial titled “Snowden case highlights Ecuador’s double standard”, underscoring the fact that Ecuador’s media law currently prohibits the divulging of secret information of the kind revealed by Snowden, who ought to be “particularly interested” in that law.

Pointing out that Ecuador’s US trade preferences expire next month, the editorial concludes that “If Mr. Correa welcomes Mr. Snowden, there will be an easy way to demonstrate that Yanqui-baiting has its price.”

Ecuador’s government is reviewing the asylum request made by Edward Snowden, who is apparently in Moscow at the moment.

“Ecuador is considering the request,” Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño declared in Vietnam on Monday.

Source (HAVANA TIMES)

"To the extent that you have aided and abetted Snowden, even in his current movements, why shouldn’t you, Mr. Greenwald, be charged with a crime?" David Gregory asked in Meet the Press yesterday.

Greenwald, who didn’t seem to bat an eye when responding to the puppet/reporter David Gregory, responded: “I think it’s pretty extraordinary that anybody who would call themselves a journalist would publicly muse about whether or not other journalists should be charged with felonies,” Greenwald said. “The assumption in your question, David, is completely without evidence — the idea I’ve aided and abetted him in any way. The scandal that arose in Washington before our stories began was about the fact that the Obama administration is trying to criminalize investigative journalism by going through the emails and records of AP reporters, accusing a Fox News journalist of the theory you just embraced — being a co-conspirator in felonies for working with sources. If you want to embrace that theory, it means every investigative journalist in the United States who works with their sources [and] receives classified information is a criminal. And it’s precisely those theories and precisely that climate that has become so menacing in the United States. It’s why the New Yorker’s Jean Mayer said investigative reporting has come to a ‘standstill,’ her word, as a result of the theories you just referenced.”

You can see just that segment of the interview here or you can watch the whole interview here (first 15 minutes are with Glenn Greenwald).

Greenwald tweeted about the exchange soon after: “Who needs the government to try and criminalize journalism when you have David Gregory to do it?”

Gregory responded: “This is the problem from somebody who claims that he’s a journalist who would object to a journalist raising questions, which is not actually embracing any particular point of view,” he said. He added that Greenwald’s actions were “part of the debate.”

What debate was that again? The debate about journalists and whether they are criminals? You mean, a debate about the criminality of journalism is the dominant conversation that surfaces after historically important government leaks regarding privacy and civil rights are released to the public?

MSNBC is terrible neo-liberal propaganda. These are chilling times…

Venezuelan government commits to resolving indigenous Yukpa land issueMarch 27, 2013
Following the murder of indigenous Yukpa leader Sabino Romero three weeks ago, a committee of 17 Yukpa met yesterday with the minister for foreign affairs, Elias Jaua, who promised to make payments so their lands could be inhabited by them.
The payments are to compensate land and building renovations made by cattle ranchers who are occupying 25 large land holdings that the Yukpa have legal collective titles to.
On 12 October 2009 the government handed over collective property titles to Yukpa communities, and on 11 October 2011, then President Hugo Chavez publically announced the government would nationalise the 25 ranches, with a total area of 15,810 hectares. Then on 6 May last year Chavez announced the assignation of Bs 259 million to make those nationalisation payments.
Jaua, representing the government, has promised the payments will be made within sixty days.
Romero was murdered on 3 March and until now, no arrests have been made. Two local police have been detained for investigations, then released due to lack of evidence linking them with the crime.
Last year seven Yukpa were also murdered by cattle ranchers or killers hired by them, and many more have been injured. Cattle ranchers have refused to hand over the land to the rightful owners, claiming they haven’t received payments for the land. In response, Yukpa people have occupied some of the large farms, and have been violently removed.
So far, the murderers of the Yukpa remain unpunished.
Romero’s son, who shares the same name, told press after the meeting with Jaua that the Yukpa had demanded the government investigate the crime.
Days after the murder however, the government said it had sent an investigation team to the region, including members of the national intelligence service SEBIN, and the criminal investigation body CICPC.
Homo et Natura reported that the Yukpa are demanding a “holistic” investigation which includes the other seven Yukpa murdered. They also demanded that Captain Lopez and other soldiers be detained and judged, for allegedly allowing the two hired killers to flee on their motorbike after killing Sabino. Further, they requested that two other individuals be detained for allegedly beating Sabino and his family and making death threats.
The Yukpa met with Zulia governor Francisco Arias  last week, who then arranged the meeting with Jaua in Caracas. Jaua, previously vice-president of Venezuela, has also been minister for agriculture, and the director of the land institute, Inti.
The Yukpa live in the Perija region of Zulia state. The region is one of Venezuela’s key producers of milk and beef, and there are also certain mining interests there.
Source

Venezuelan government commits to resolving indigenous Yukpa land issue
March 27, 2013

Following the murder of indigenous Yukpa leader Sabino Romero three weeks ago, a committee of 17 Yukpa met yesterday with the minister for foreign affairs, Elias Jaua, who promised to make payments so their lands could be inhabited by them.

The payments are to compensate land and building renovations made by cattle ranchers who are occupying 25 large land holdings that the Yukpa have legal collective titles to.

On 12 October 2009 the government handed over collective property titles to Yukpa communities, and on 11 October 2011, then President Hugo Chavez publically announced the government would nationalise the 25 ranches, with a total area of 15,810 hectares. Then on 6 May last year Chavez announced the assignation of Bs 259 million to make those nationalisation payments.

Jaua, representing the government, has promised the payments will be made within sixty days.

Romero was murdered on 3 March and until now, no arrests have been made. Two local police have been detained for investigations, then released due to lack of evidence linking them with the crime.

Last year seven Yukpa were also murdered by cattle ranchers or killers hired by them, and many more have been injured. Cattle ranchers have refused to hand over the land to the rightful owners, claiming they haven’t received payments for the land. In response, Yukpa people have occupied some of the large farms, and have been violently removed.

So far, the murderers of the Yukpa remain unpunished.

Romero’s son, who shares the same name, told press after the meeting with Jaua that the Yukpa had demanded the government investigate the crime.

Days after the murder however, the government said it had sent an investigation team to the region, including members of the national intelligence service SEBIN, and the criminal investigation body CICPC.

Homo et Natura reported that the Yukpa are demanding a “holistic” investigation which includes the other seven Yukpa murdered. They also demanded that Captain Lopez and other soldiers be detained and judged, for allegedly allowing the two hired killers to flee on their motorbike after killing Sabino. Further, they requested that two other individuals be detained for allegedly beating Sabino and his family and making death threats.

The Yukpa met with Zulia governor Francisco Arias  last week, who then arranged the meeting with Jaua in Caracas. Jaua, previously vice-president of Venezuela, has also been minister for agriculture, and the director of the land institute, Inti.

The Yukpa live in the Perija region of Zulia state. The region is one of Venezuela’s key producers of milk and beef, and there are also certain mining interests there.

Source

Chavez muses on US Latin America cancer plot: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has questioned whether the US has developed a secret technology to give cancer to left-wing leaders in Latin America.
(Originally posted on December 28, 2011)

Treated for cancer this year, Mr Chavez was speaking a day after news that Argentina’s president had the disease. Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and her predecessor Lula have also had cancer.

Mr Chavez said this was ‘very strange’ but stressed that he was thinking aloud rather than making any accusations. He said the instances of cancer among Latin American leaders were “difficult to explain using the law of probabilities”.

"Would it be strange if they had developed the technology to induce cancer and nobody knew about it?" Mr Chavez asked in a televised speech to soldiers at an army base.

Who next?
Mr Chavez noted that US government scientists had infected Guatemalan prisoners with syphilis and other diseases in the 1940s, but that this had only come to light last year.

And he joked that he would now take extra care of the presidents of Bolivia and Ecuador - Evo Morales and Rafael Correa - lest they also be diagnosed with cancer.

The Venezuelan leader, who is 57, has often accused the US of plotting to overthrow or even kill him.

The exact details of his illness have not been made public, fuelling speculation that his condition may be worse than he has let on.

Mr Chavez was the first regional leader to offer support to the Argentine President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, after it was announced on Tuesday that she had thyroid cancer.

"We will live and we will conquer!" he told her.

Ms Fernandez, 58, is due to have an operation on 4 January, but doctors say her prognosis is very good.

Survivors’ summit

Doctors treating former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva for throat cancer say the 66-year-old is responding well to chemotherapy and should make a full recovery.

Dilma Rousseff, 64 - who took over from Lula as Brazilian president a year ago - is fully recovered after receiving treatment for lymphoma cancer in 2009.

Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, 60, was diagnosed with lymphoma in August 2010 but is now in remission after chemotherapy.

Lula and Mr Chavez have previously joked that they would hold a summit of Latin American leaders who had beaten cancer.

Ms Fernandez has now said that she will insist on being the “honorary president” of the summit of cancer survivors.

Source

As of August 29, 2012:
WikiLeaks has been financially blockaded without process for 634 days.Julian Assange has been detained without charge for 631 days.  - 71 days at the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Bradley Manning has been in jail without trial for 828 days.  A secret Grand Jury on WikiLeaks has been active for 714 days.

As of August 29, 2012:

WikiLeaks has been financially blockaded without process for 634 days.
Julian Assange has been detained without charge for 631 days. 
 - 71 days at the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Bradley Manning has been in jail without trial for 828 days.  
A secret Grand Jury on WikiLeaks has been active for 714 days.
Julian Assange granted political asylum in EcuadorAugust 14, 2012
Ecuador's president Rafael Correa has agreed to give Julian Assange asylum, officials within Ecuador’s government have said.
The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up at Ecuador’s London embassy since June 19, when he officially requested political asylum.
"Ecuador will grant asylum to Julian Assange," said an official in the Ecuadorean capital Quito, who is familiar with the government discussions.
On Monday, Correa told state-run ECTV that he would decide this week whether to grant asylum to Assange. Correa said a large amount of material about international law had to be examined to make a responsible informed decision.
Ecuador’s foreign minister Ricardo Patiño indicated that the president would reveal his answer once the Olympic Games were over. But it remains unclear if giving Assange asylum will allow him to leave Britain and fly to Ecuador, or amounts to little more than a symbolic gesture. At the moment he faces the prospect of arrest as soon as he leaves the embassy for breaching his bail conditions.
"For Mr Assange to leave England, he should have a safe pass from the British [government]. Will that be possible? That’s an issue we have to take into account," Patino told Reuters on Tuesday.
Government sources in Quito confirmed that despite the outstanding legal issues Correa would grant Assange asylum – a move which would annoy Britain, the US and Sweden. They added that the offer was made to Assange several months ago, well before he sought refuge in the embassy, and following confidential negotiations with senior London embassy staff.
The official with knowledge of the discussions said the embassy had discussed Assange’s asylum request. The British government, however, “discouraged the idea,” the offical said. The Swedish government was also “not very collaborative”, the official said.
The official added: “We see Assange’s request as a humanitarian issue. The contact between the Ecuadorean government and WikiLeaks goes back to May 2011, when we became the first country to see the leaked US embassy cables completely declassified … It is clear that when Julian entered the embassy there was already some sort of deal. We see in his work a parallel with our struggle for national sovereignty and the democratisation of international relations.”
Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual misconduct. He is said to be living in one room of the diplomatic building, where he has a high-speed internet connection.
Ecuadorean diplomats believe Assange is at risk of being extradited from Sweden to the US, where he could face the death penalty. Assange’s supporters claim the US has already secretly indicted him following WikiLeaks’ release in 2010 of US diplomatic cables, as well as classified Afghan and Iraq war logs.
Correa and Patiño have both said that Ecuador will take a sovereign decision regarding Assange. They say they view his case as a humanitarian act, and are seeking to protect Assange’s right to life and freedom. On Monday the state-run newspaper El Telégrafo confirmed a decision had been made, although the paper did not specify what that decision was. It said that senior officials had been meeting in the past few days to iron out the last legal details.
Two weeks ago Assange’s mother Christine Assange paid Ecuador an official visit, following an invitation by Ecuador’s foreign affairs ministry. She met with Correa and Patiño, as well as with other top politicians, including Fernando Cordero, head of Ecuador’s legislature. Both Patiño and Ms Assange appeared visibly touched during a press conference, which had to be briefly suspended when Ms Assange started crying.
Ms Assange also held several public meetings in government buildings, and in one case she was accompanied by the head of Assange’s defence team, Baltasar Garzón, the former Spanish judge who ordered the London arrest of Chile’s General Pinochet.
Other top political figures in Ecuador have been vocal about the government’s support of Assange’s bid. “Our comrade the president, who leads our international policy, will grant Julian Assange asylum,” said María Augusta Calle, a congresswoman of the president’s party, and former head of the Sovereignty, Foreign Affairs and Latin American Integration Commission during the 2008 Constitutional Assembly, during a meeting with Ms Assange.
Over the past year and a half, Assange has remained in touch with Ecuador’s embassy in London. In April, he interviewed President Correa for his TV show on Russia Today, the English-language channel funded by the Russian government. The interview, which lasted 75 minutes, included a pally exchange in which Assange and Correa bonded over freedom of speech and the negative role of the US in Latin America. At one point Correa joked: “Are you having a lot of fun with the interview, Julian?” Assange replied: “I’m enjoying your jokes a great deal, yes.”
Correa has made international headlines this year for what critics have called a government crackdown on private media. Analysts say that granting the WikiLeaks founder asylum could be a way for him to depict himself as a champion of freedom of speech ahead of the February 2013 presidential elections, in which he is expected to run again.
Source
Amazing news. Now truth advocates must show support to Ecuador given that many have promised trade sanctions with the country if it was to grant asylum. 
Wikileaks has exposed so much corruption, horrendous war crimes & injustices all over the world. Julian Assange is a true journalist & hero. 

Julian Assange granted political asylum in Ecuador
August 14, 2012

Ecuador's president Rafael Correa has agreed to give Julian Assange asylum, officials within Ecuador’s government have said.

The WikiLeaks founder has been holed up at Ecuador’s London embassy since June 19, when he officially requested political asylum.

"Ecuador will grant asylum to Julian Assange," said an official in the Ecuadorean capital Quito, who is familiar with the government discussions.

On Monday, Correa told state-run ECTV that he would decide this week whether to grant asylum to Assange. Correa said a large amount of material about international law had to be examined to make a responsible informed decision.

Ecuador’s foreign minister Ricardo Patiño indicated that the president would reveal his answer once the Olympic Games were over. But it remains unclear if giving Assange asylum will allow him to leave Britain and fly to Ecuador, or amounts to little more than a symbolic gesture. At the moment he faces the prospect of arrest as soon as he leaves the embassy for breaching his bail conditions.

"For Mr Assange to leave England, he should have a safe pass from the British [government]. Will that be possible? That’s an issue we have to take into account," Patino told Reuters on Tuesday.

Government sources in Quito confirmed that despite the outstanding legal issues Correa would grant Assange asylum – a move which would annoy Britain, the US and Sweden. They added that the offer was made to Assange several months ago, well before he sought refuge in the embassy, and following confidential negotiations with senior London embassy staff.

The official with knowledge of the discussions said the embassy had discussed Assange’s asylum request. The British government, however, “discouraged the idea,” the offical said. The Swedish government was also “not very collaborative”, the official said.

The official added: “We see Assange’s request as a humanitarian issue. The contact between the Ecuadorean government and WikiLeaks goes back to May 2011, when we became the first country to see the leaked US embassy cables completely declassified … It is clear that when Julian entered the embassy there was already some sort of deal. We see in his work a parallel with our struggle for national sovereignty and the democratisation of international relations.”

Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual misconduct. He is said to be living in one room of the diplomatic building, where he has a high-speed internet connection.

Ecuadorean diplomats believe Assange is at risk of being extradited from Sweden to the US, where he could face the death penalty. Assange’s supporters claim the US has already secretly indicted him following WikiLeaks’ release in 2010 of US diplomatic cables, as well as classified Afghan and Iraq war logs.

Correa and Patiño have both said that Ecuador will take a sovereign decision regarding Assange. They say they view his case as a humanitarian act, and are seeking to protect Assange’s right to life and freedom. On Monday the state-run newspaper El Telégrafo confirmed a decision had been made, although the paper did not specify what that decision was. It said that senior officials had been meeting in the past few days to iron out the last legal details.

Two weeks ago Assange’s mother Christine Assange paid Ecuador an official visit, following an invitation by Ecuador’s foreign affairs ministry. She met with Correa and Patiño, as well as with other top politicians, including Fernando Cordero, head of Ecuador’s legislature. Both Patiño and Ms Assange appeared visibly touched during a press conference, which had to be briefly suspended when Ms Assange started crying.

Ms Assange also held several public meetings in government buildings, and in one case she was accompanied by the head of Assange’s defence team, Baltasar Garzón, the former Spanish judge who ordered the London arrest of Chile’s General Pinochet.

Other top political figures in Ecuador have been vocal about the government’s support of Assange’s bid. “Our comrade the president, who leads our international policy, will grant Julian Assange asylum,” said María Augusta Calle, a congresswoman of the president’s party, and former head of the Sovereignty, Foreign Affairs and Latin American Integration Commission during the 2008 Constitutional Assembly, during a meeting with Ms Assange.

Over the past year and a half, Assange has remained in touch with Ecuador’s embassy in London. In April, he interviewed President Correa for his TV show on Russia Today, the English-language channel funded by the Russian government. The interview, which lasted 75 minutes, included a pally exchange in which Assange and Correa bonded over freedom of speech and the negative role of the US in Latin America. At one point Correa joked: “Are you having a lot of fun with the interview, Julian?” Assange replied: “I’m enjoying your jokes a great deal, yes.”

Correa has made international headlines this year for what critics have called a government crackdown on private media. Analysts say that granting the WikiLeaks founder asylum could be a way for him to depict himself as a champion of freedom of speech ahead of the February 2013 presidential elections, in which he is expected to run again.

Source

Amazing news. Now truth advocates must show support to Ecuador given that many have promised trade sanctions with the country if it was to grant asylum. 

Wikileaks has exposed so much corruption, horrendous war crimes & injustices all over the world. Julian Assange is a true journalist & hero. 

Correa: Ecuador hopes to decide on Assange asylum this week
August 14, 2012
Ecuador is likely to announce a decision on whether to grant political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange before the end of the week in a case with diplomatic implications around the world, President Rafael Correa said on Monday. Assange has been taking refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since June 19 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sex crime allegations. The former computer hacker, who enraged Washington in 2010 when his WikiLeaks website published thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, says he fears he could be sent to the United States, where he believes his life would be at risk. “We have to review the process in Sweden,” Correa said in a television interview. “We have to look at the possibility that he may be extradited to the United States, that there may be a secret court there, that he may face the death penalty. “We expect to have a meeting on Wednesday (with Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino) and I hope to make an announcement before the end of the week.” Leftist leader Correa said he sympathizes with Assange but also feels respect for the British legal system and for international law. He said his government already has gathered enough information to take a responsible decision. Neither U.S. nor Swedish authorities have charged Assange with anything. Swedish prosecutors want to question him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two WikiLeaks supporters in 2010. Assange says he had consensual sex with the women. It is not clear how Assange would travel to Ecuador if he is granted asylum. By diplomatic convention, British police cannot enter the embassy without Ecuador’s approval. But he has no way of boarding a plane to Ecuador without passing through London and exposing himself to arrest. Correa last month met with Assange’s mother, who traveled to the Andean country to plead for her son’s asylum request. Patino also met with former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, who was appointed to head Assange’s legal team.
Julian Assange has been inside Ecuador’s embassy in London since June 19, 2012. 
Source

Correa: Ecuador hopes to decide on Assange asylum this week

August 14, 2012

Ecuador is likely to announce a decision on whether to grant political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange before the end of the week in a case with diplomatic implications around the world, President Rafael Correa said on Monday.

Assange has been taking refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since June 19 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sex crime allegations.

The former computer hacker, who enraged Washington in 2010 when his WikiLeaks website published thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables, says he fears he could be sent to the United States, where he believes his life would be at risk.

“We have to review the process in Sweden,” Correa said in a television interview. “We have to look at the possibility that he may be extradited to the United States, that there may be a secret court there, that he may face the death penalty.

“We expect to have a meeting on Wednesday (with Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino) and I hope to make an announcement before the end of the week.”

Leftist leader Correa said he sympathizes with Assange but also feels respect for the British legal system and for international law. He said his government already has gathered enough information to take a responsible decision.

Neither U.S. nor Swedish authorities have charged Assange with anything. Swedish prosecutors want to question him about allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two WikiLeaks supporters in 2010. Assange says he had consensual sex with the women.

It is not clear how Assange would travel to Ecuador if he is granted asylum. By diplomatic convention, British police cannot enter the embassy without Ecuador’s approval. But he has no way of boarding a plane to Ecuador without passing through London and exposing himself to arrest.

Correa last month met with Assange’s mother, who traveled to the Andean country to plead for her son’s asylum request. Patino also met with former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, who was appointed to head Assange’s legal team.

Julian Assange has been inside Ecuador’s embassy in London since June 19, 2012.

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WikiLeaks hit by week-long DDoS attack and President Correa could make announcement on Assange today.
August 13, 2012
WikiLeaks, a website that publishes classified documents from anonymous sources, says it’s been the victim of a sustained denial-of-service attack which has left its website sluggish or inaccessible for more than a week.
In a statement released late Saturday the group said the assault intensified around the beginning of August and has since expanded to include attacks against affiliated sites.
Denial-of-service attacks work by overwhelming websites with requests for information. WikiLeaks has said it’s been flooded with 10 gigabits per second of bogus traffic from thousands of different Internet addresses.
Josh Corman, with online content delivery company Akamai, characterized that as “a bit larger” than attacks commonly seen in the past few years.
WikiLeaks was created by Julian Assange, who came under fire for heading the organization that leaked secret government documents.
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In related news, Ecuador could soon reveal whether it will grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up at the country’s embassy in Britain for nearly two months.
Quito announced last month it would respond to the request after the Olympic Games in London, which wrapped up on Sunday.
President Rafael Correa is due to appear on state television this afternoon (AEST).
However, government officials were unable to say whether he would announce a decision at that time.
Source

WikiLeaks hit by week-long DDoS attack and President Correa could make announcement on Assange today.

August 13, 2012

WikiLeaks, a website that publishes classified documents from anonymous sources, says it’s been the victim of a sustained denial-of-service attack which has left its website sluggish or inaccessible for more than a week.

In a statement released late Saturday the group said the assault intensified around the beginning of August and has since expanded to include attacks against affiliated sites.

Denial-of-service attacks work by overwhelming websites with requests for information. WikiLeaks has said it’s been flooded with 10 gigabits per second of bogus traffic from thousands of different Internet addresses.

Josh Corman, with online content delivery company Akamai, characterized that as “a bit larger” than attacks commonly seen in the past few years.

WikiLeaks was created by Julian Assange, who came under fire for heading the organization that leaked secret government documents.

Source

In related news, Ecuador could soon reveal whether it will grant asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been holed up at the country’s embassy in Britain for nearly two months.

Quito announced last month it would respond to the request after the Olympic Games in London, which wrapped up on Sunday.

President Rafael Correa is due to appear on state television this afternoon (AEST).

However, government officials were unable to say whether he would announce a decision at that time.

Source

In other Chevron news: Chevron faces deadline in $19 billion Ecuador caseAugust 7, 2012
U.S. oil giant Chevron has until midnight tonight to pay a US $19.04 billion Ecuador court judgment for polluting Amazon waterways or officially default and face another lawsuit to seize its assets, this time in Ecuador. Such collection lawsuits are pending against Chevron in Canada and Brazil.
Ecuador Judge Liliana Ortiz on Friday signed an order giving Chevron until midnight tonight to deposit the funds necessary to remediate the oil contamination, which included the dumping of more than 16 billion gallons of toxic waste from oil production into Amazon waterways.
Judge Ortiz’s order comes after almost 19 years of litigation.
The case, Aguinda v. ChevronTexaco, began on November 3, 1993 when 30,000 indigenous people and farmers from Ecuador’s Amazon filed a class action suit against Texaco in New York federal court alleging massive oil contamination of the rainforest.
For 10 years, Texaco argued before U.S. judges that the case should be transferred to Ecuador’s courts. In 2002, a U.S. federal judge granted Texaco’s motion and removed the case to Ecuador on the condition that Texaco submit to jurisdiction there and be bound by any ruling of the Ecuadorian courts.
In the meantime, Chevron bought Texaco in 2001, assuming its liabilities and defense of the case.
Texaco operated in Ecuador from 1964 to 1992, building hundreds of oil production facilities. The trial judge in Lagio Agrio found overwhelming evidence that the company dumped billions of gallons of toxic waste into Amazon waterways as a cost-saving measure.
Five indigenous groups in the area have been harmed by the pollution that covers an area the size of Rhode Island. The contamination also caused an outbreak of cancer that has killed or threatens to kill thousands of people in the area, according to evidence before the court.
Judge Ortiz’s order is the final step under Ecuador civil procedure to certify the 188-page trial court judgment, which was issued on February 11, 2011. That judgement was unanimously affirmed on appeal in early January. It set the amount of the judgment at $18.2 billion.
Last week, Judge Ortiz raised the final amount of the award to $19.041 billion after calculating various mandatory costs required by Ecuador law.
Chevron stripped most of its primary assets, including service stations, from Ecuador years ago and the company no longer operates in the country.
Pablo Fajardo, the lead Ecuador lawyer on the case, says that for practical purposes, Judge Ortiz’s order allows the rainforest communities to execute the Ecuador judgment against Chevron’s remaining assets in their home country.
Fajardo estimates Chevron’s remaining assets in Ecuador are worth roughly $200 million, including a $96 million court judgment the company won recently in an international arbitration proceeding against Ecuador’s government.
Judge Ortiz’s order also puts the plaintiffs in a stronger legal position to pursue recognition of the Ecuador judgment abroad under various international treaties and domestic law statutes.
Collection lawsuits are pending against Chevron in Canada and Brazil, where the company has billions of dollars worth of assets. The plaintiffs are asking courts to seize to seize these assets to satisfy the judgment and finance a cleanup of the oil contamination, said Fajardo.
“People in Ecuador are dying because of Chevron’s pollution and company’s utter contempt for the rule of law,” said Fajardo. “Chevron is going to have to be forced by courts to comply with its legal obligations.”
Chevron maintains the plaintiffs’ allegations that it is responsible for alleged environmental and social harms in the Oriente region of Ecuador are “false.”  Chevron says the company never conducted oil production operations in Ecuador, and its subsidiary Texaco Petroleum Co. (TexPet) “fully remediated its share of environmental impacts arising from oil production operations, before leaving Ecuador in 1992.”
“After the remediation was certified by all agencies of the Ecuadorian government responsible for oversight, TexPet received a complete release from Ecuador’s national, provincial, and municipal governments that extinguished all claims before Chevron acquired TexPet in 2001,” the company says.
“All legitimate scientific evidence exonerates Chevron and proves that the remediated sites pose no significant risks to human health or the environment,” Chevron says on its website.
If Chevron refuses to pay the court judgment, the company will face a greater risk of liability in the enforcement actions already pending, said Karen Hinton, the U.S. spokesperson for the indigenous and farmer plaintiffs.
If Chevron defaults, Fajardo said his legal team will file court actions to seize the intellectual property rights of various Chevron brands in Ecuador, including Havoline.
Source

In other Chevron news: Chevron faces deadline in $19 billion Ecuador case
August 7, 2012

U.S. oil giant Chevron has until midnight tonight to pay a US $19.04 billion Ecuador court judgment for polluting Amazon waterways or officially default and face another lawsuit to seize its assets, this time in Ecuador. Such collection lawsuits are pending against Chevron in Canada and Brazil.

Ecuador Judge Liliana Ortiz on Friday signed an order giving Chevron until midnight tonight to deposit the funds necessary to remediate the oil contamination, which included the dumping of more than 16 billion gallons of toxic waste from oil production into Amazon waterways.

Judge Ortiz’s order comes after almost 19 years of litigation.

The case, Aguinda v. ChevronTexaco, began on November 3, 1993 when 30,000 indigenous people and farmers from Ecuador’s Amazon filed a class action suit against Texaco in New York federal court alleging massive oil contamination of the rainforest.

For 10 years, Texaco argued before U.S. judges that the case should be transferred to Ecuador’s courts. In 2002, a U.S. federal judge granted Texaco’s motion and removed the case to Ecuador on the condition that Texaco submit to jurisdiction there and be bound by any ruling of the Ecuadorian courts.

In the meantime, Chevron bought Texaco in 2001, assuming its liabilities and defense of the case.

Texaco operated in Ecuador from 1964 to 1992, building hundreds of oil production facilities. The trial judge in Lagio Agrio found overwhelming evidence that the company dumped billions of gallons of toxic waste into Amazon waterways as a cost-saving measure.

Five indigenous groups in the area have been harmed by the pollution that covers an area the size of Rhode Island. The contamination also caused an outbreak of cancer that has killed or threatens to kill thousands of people in the area, according to evidence before the court.

Judge Ortiz’s order is the final step under Ecuador civil procedure to certify the 188-page trial court judgment, which was issued on February 11, 2011. That judgement was unanimously affirmed on appeal in early January. It set the amount of the judgment at $18.2 billion.

Last week, Judge Ortiz raised the final amount of the award to $19.041 billion after calculating various mandatory costs required by Ecuador law.

Chevron stripped most of its primary assets, including service stations, from Ecuador years ago and the company no longer operates in the country.

Pablo Fajardo, the lead Ecuador lawyer on the case, says that for practical purposes, Judge Ortiz’s order allows the rainforest communities to execute the Ecuador judgment against Chevron’s remaining assets in their home country.

Fajardo estimates Chevron’s remaining assets in Ecuador are worth roughly $200 million, including a $96 million court judgment the company won recently in an international arbitration proceeding against Ecuador’s government.

Judge Ortiz’s order also puts the plaintiffs in a stronger legal position to pursue recognition of the Ecuador judgment abroad under various international treaties and domestic law statutes.

Collection lawsuits are pending against Chevron in Canada and Brazil, where the company has billions of dollars worth of assets. The plaintiffs are asking courts to seize to seize these assets to satisfy the judgment and finance a cleanup of the oil contamination, said Fajardo.

“People in Ecuador are dying because of Chevron’s pollution and company’s utter contempt for the rule of law,” said Fajardo. “Chevron is going to have to be forced by courts to comply with its legal obligations.”

Chevron maintains the plaintiffs’ allegations that it is responsible for alleged environmental and social harms in the Oriente region of Ecuador are “false.”
  
Chevron says the company never conducted oil production operations in Ecuador, and its subsidiary Texaco Petroleum Co. (TexPet) “fully remediated its share of environmental impacts arising from oil production operations, before leaving Ecuador in 1992.”

“After the remediation was certified by all agencies of the Ecuadorian government responsible for oversight, TexPet received a complete release from Ecuador’s national, provincial, and municipal governments that extinguished all claims before Chevron acquired TexPet in 2001,” the company says.

“All legitimate scientific evidence exonerates Chevron and proves that the remediated sites pose no significant risks to human health or the environment,” Chevron says on its website.

If Chevron refuses to pay the court judgment, the company will face a greater risk of liability in the enforcement actions already pending, said Karen Hinton, the U.S. spokesperson for the indigenous and farmer plaintiffs.

If Chevron defaults, Fajardo said his legal team will file court actions to seize the intellectual property rights of various Chevron brands in Ecuador, including Havoline.

Source